Matthew 24

 Mr. Turner was interesting, but he disappointed me with his “spin” on Matthew 24.  Seems like the gist of his message was that, when he’s really challenged by alternate/competing philosophies or moments of doubt, he rests his faith in the prophecies of the Bible.  Funny how Jesus could be clearly explaining things that would come to pass in his audience’s generation, but then suddenly shift into really abstract metaphors concerning distant-future Christendom and a special time of tribulation way, way beyond anything ordinary Christians would ever have to endure.

Mr. Turner did bring out some interesting points, such as the idea that Jesus’ audience knew exactly what he meant by “the abomination of desolation” because a similar incident had already occurred a few hundred years earlier.  Also enjoyed thinking about his suggestion that the standard Jewish response to asking questions 1, 2, and 3 was to answer them in the order of 3, 2, and 1…

However, it was clear (to me) that he was doing his best to match the text with his conceptions (pre, perhaps?) of a still-future age of tribulation.  Wonder if amateur theologians along the Bataan Death March discussed whether tribulation was still future?  Or if the Anabaptists, just before their tongues were cut out by their Jesuit inquisitors, discussed the finer aspects of premillennial eschatology…

I’m not sure if this is part of my leftward political slide, but ever since Sunday, I’ve been wondering if the whole post-mil school of end-times thinking is a relatively new flavor of Christendom nurtured in the bowels of expanding Western empires.  Have Christians suffering in the crucible of terrible persecutions held to the post-mil view of eschatology, or is that a luxury enjoyed by Westerners confident that their societal luxuries are soon going to be the planetary norm?  Will post-mil theology fade from the scene after a few more millennia have passed, or will First Baptist’s church bulletins eventually evolve to feature the “unreached galaxy of the week?”

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Baptists in Lebanon were not doctrinally/intellectually prepared for the suffering they endured during their civil war.  They really expected to catch the “magic bus” rapture that would let them escape that kind of anguish.  I went to my high school reunion in Washington DC last week.  We watched a movie titled “West Beirut” that accurately captured the spirit of the times in the late 1970s.  Two things I had forgotten (my last visit was in 1978): how violent and depressing those times were (especially when you understand the usually-indomitable spirit of the Lebanese), and how adept at cussing the Lebanese were…

Seems like the whole idea of post-mil theology is fraught with the same complications as believing in an Arminian “age of accountability.”  At what point do we break out the theological lawn chairs and wait for prophetical fireworks?  Whose maps do we use to determine that we have successfully evangelized the entire planet?  Or galaxy, if we can manage to emigrate beyond this tiny blue ball…

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